Bear Lake Sampling

Malachi Blundon's Research Testimonial

I first visited the biology department during my senior year of high school. The department was smaller than others I had visited, and I quickly learned this was the main strength that provided a strong foundation for someone who wanted to excel in biological research. I earned my Bachelors and Masters Degrees in the Biology Department at Fredonia. The time I spent working at Fredonia provided me with huge advantages that I fully appreciated during my Ph.D. interviews. The small classes allowed me to become very close to all of the faculty. It was nice to always have one on one time with the faculty if I had a question that needed to be answered in greater detail. Small questions led to bigger questions, which led to discussions that developed my critical thinking skills. I feel you cannot get this at bigger universities where you are just a number.

I was involved in research at Fredonia for 3 ½ years. I began my research path in Dr. Matthew Fountain's laboratory using lanthinides to characterize tandem mismatch mutations in short DNA sequences. This pushed me to use the knowledge I acquired in my classes, read primary literature, plan experiments, and produce data for publication. This summer project was funded by the Holmberg Foundation, which is one of the many summer research fellowships offered at Fredonia.

During my senior year, I continued my undergraduate research in Dr. Scott Ferguson's laboratory. There I studied the effects of DNA damage on insulin signaling using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. In Dr. Ferguson’s lab I found my niche – research in genetics and molecular biology. I started outperforming simple phenotype characterization and eventually worked my way up to performing more advanced fluorescence microscopy experiments. These experiments helped me earn a spot on Dr. Ferguson's first publication at Fredonia as second author. This was the highlight of my undergrad career.

In order to gain more experience prior to embarking on a Ph.D. I decided to pursue a Master's degree at Fredonia. Dr. Ferguson was generous enough to take me under his wing and allow me to independently develop my thesis project. My research identified and characterized a mutant gene that affects eggshell patterning in Drosophila melanogaster. I was given full independence to develop the project. This allowed me to really dive into the researcher mentality as I had to become better at reading primary literature, planning experiments, interpreting data, and conveying that data to the scientific community. This was also the point at which I really started to develop my public speaking skills.

Overall, I would not trade anything in the world for the experiences I had at Fredonia. In my six years, goals became a reality; the faculty became colleagues; and the knowledge acquired in the classroom translated to research. Being in a small department led to so many advantages that gave me a significant boost in my Ph.D. interviews. I have been accepted into Carnegie Mellon's Cell and Developmental Biology Ph.D. program and I credit my preparation to the wonderful people in the Biology Department.

Malachi Blundon
B.S. in Molecular Genetics, Class of 2010
M.S. in Biology, Class of 2012
Ph.D. student, Cell and Developmental Biology, Carnegie Mellon University